Adapting Your eCommerce Store to the Mobile Market
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Over a billion smartphones were sold in 2014. Despite this, mobile companies have seen rapid decline in selling prices of mobile devices. This indicates high competition and a cutthroat price war; such low prices are also fuelling global demands. Expectedly, the developing markets in Asia have clocked the highest numbers in sales and revenue with China growing at more than 30%. However, even saturated developed markets have seen double-digit growths, as evidenced in this study by Dazeinfo.
Consequently, we are seeing rapid growth in the mobile ad expenditures. According to a study by MagnaGlobal, mobile advertising is going to expand 50% by 2018. At the same time, traditional mediums like print and TV are gradually declining and becoming less and less profitable. This is because of technological advances, such as the incorporation of smartphones, that are fast becoming essential tools for day-to-day functioning, on virtually every level.
With a myriad of apps for every imaginable purpose, there is little that cannot be done through mobile devices nowadays. As a result, new online services are launching right before our eyes that target only smartphone users.
Smarter Mediums, Easier Targeting
Smartphones have been a game changer in many ways. Foremost, they have brought the Internet experience out of bulky computers and into our pockets. As a result, people are spending much more time surfing the net and using social media, simply because they can do it from any touch point. While initially this was merely a pastime, due to increasingly sophisticated devices and tech savvy entrepreneurs, the mobile market has advanced in importance beyond its initially limited utility.
Today, people aren’t simply catching up with their friends over mobile devices, but conducting bank transactions and online shopping. It’s important for businesses to understand how an average mobile user behaves and what motivates them to make a purchase, or they will risk falling behind competing businesses with a stronger web presence. The following mobile tools have proven to impact sales:
Apps: Most operations of smartphones are done through apps. You can create an app for any purpose or kind of business. This is a quick and smart way of providing a service through a simple, mobile-optimized interface. Build-in tools: Most mobile phones come equipped with a camera, microphone, and GPS. These devices are a treasure trove for online businesses. Mobile tools can track a user’s location and offer services based on that information (eg. A restaurant chain can indicate their outlet nearest to a users’ current location). Furthermore, businesses can conduct various activities such as photography contests instantly. People do not always carry a camera, but almost everybody carries their phone with them. SMS Notifications: While traditional methods of online contact are going out of vogue with younger generations, text messages, as well as messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Line allow instant communication that can be used for real time updates. These should be used sparingly, as most users don’t appreciate non-personal texts. However, if used properly, these can be a means of clear and direct communication. Analytics: It's fairly easy to track behaviour and develop market intelligence with analytics. They help create and define highly intelligent and targeted ads or campaigns that have the ability to reach the right audience and ideally have better conversion rates and ROI.
How to Prepare eCommerce Sites for Mobile
The most important word in the field of web design nowadays is “responsive.” A responsive website is one that adapts to all devices. In the past, sites often looked odd or sometimes even failed to load. This was hardly surprising as they were often made for desktops. But since a large percentage of people are now accessing the Internet through their mobile device, you need to provide an adaptable service. Here are few points that you need to keep in mind while making your eCommerce site mobile friendly:
Clean and Minimalist Web Design: Too much clutter is difficult to comprehend on small screens. Use larger fonts and bright displays and make it easier to navigate through the site with minimal clicking. On a smartphone the user has to wait for every layer of a new page to load. You can test how the site looks on mobile using tools like Google GoMoMeter. These tools show you how your site will look on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. So, you don't have to find different devices to test every time you make a change to your site. Utilize CSS Language: Responsive design ensures that sites can scale themselves according to the shape and size of the device being used to access them. In fact, responsive design is now seen by most as a requirement, as it delivers better and consistent user experience across all types of devices. So, no matter what device a person is using, if it is responsive, it will work smoothly. In fact some studies have noted a 500% increase of sales by some online retailers after they made the switch over to responsive design.
Mobile-only Functionality: While traditionally desktop sites are thought of as a “default” medium, consider adding mobile-only functionally to encourage mobile users to visit your site. For example, QR Codes are easy to create and are only readable (generally) by mobile devices.
Up-to-date Usability: Trends change every few months or so. So with that in mind, keep an eye out for new developments in the field, since whatever you are doing can become out-dated in a matter of months. It’s best to be alert and flexible to changes.
An Enhanced User Experience
Here are some additional simple tips that can enhance the UX of your sites. While everyone has a website nowadays, most of them do not succeed as they do not offer an easy-to-use experience for users. No need to get alarmed by all the technicalities -- just keep the design basics in mind.
Optimal Screen Resolution: The problem with mobile is that there is neither a standard size nor a definite resolution. Screens can range from 2-3 inches to 4-6 inches nowadays, while resolution can vary from 320x240 to 1280x800. You cannot possibly design for everyone. It’s a good idea to do some research before going ahead with your design to figure out what kind of devices are most popular among your target audience.
Easy Navigation: One of the biggest obstacles for smartphone users is having to painfully navigate throughout a tiny screen. Design in a way that decreases the need of such movements. For example, if somebody is at the bottom of a vertically long post, provide a “Go to the Top” button instead of making them scroll all the way up again.
Divide the Pages into Small Parts: Since screens are so small, very long pages can be difficult to navigate. Use descriptive headings above each part of the page, and guide users using links to those headings. Try to eliminate back-and-forth scrolling by using a single column format -- meaning, your site displays fluidly up-and-down.
Reduce Hierarchy: Make it easy for people to find things on your site. More hierarchy (pages within pages) means a greater number of clicks. If a potential customer has to click 10 times and wait for the page to load every time to buy a product, they will probably end their visit before checkout. People are not very patient and when you combine that with the inherent limitations of mobile screens, it may lead to poor results.
Avoid Fancy Applications: Pop ups, roll over menus, flyers and other such things look good on a desktop, but may be a disaster on a small mobile screen. In fact, in most cases probably won't work. So, keep the pages simple and avoid such wizardry until the systems evolve a bit more to support them.
Type Less: Another one of the biggest challenges for smartphones is the size of the keyboard. No matter what technology is used and how polished the interface is, the fact is that even the biggest smartphone screens are not large enough to accommodate a practically-sized keyboard. So, you need to design your site in such a way so that people don't need to type very often. They should be able to navigate by clicking on the screen rather than typing. You can consider offering multiple choice options and pre-loaded drop down menus. For example, while placing an order, instead of typing the city name, users should be directed to a drop down list.
All in all, it can be said that the rise of smartphones and resultant services have been nothing but meteoric in recent years. As far as we can see, the mobile market is not a temporary fad and is here to stay. Building responsive websites tailored to mobile screens is a great step towards gearing up for a mobile future, present, and past.
"People are spending much more time surfing the net, simply because they can do it from any touch point." Tweet this!
"Responsive design ensures that sites can scale themselves according to the shape and size of the device." Tweet this!
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Graphic: Creative Market